Barkly Regional Council (NT) – funding cuts hit young indigenous people

Barkly Regional Council

MEDIA RELEASE 10 March 2015

Young people pay the price in Indigenous funding cuts

Fixing dire Indigenous disadvantage was one of Tony Abbott’s personal priorities in his preelection Promises.

Last week the Prime Minister’s Indigenous vision to close the gap became blurrier as Barkly
Regional Council (BRC) had jobs slashed across its youth, workplace and environmental
programs under the Federal Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) funding.

Barkly Regional Council provides services across the second largest local government region
in Australia to predominantly Aboriginal residents who directly rely on council at the

Critical to this success is the workforce, a scarce resource already, which builds bridges to
develop indigenous capacity, employment in the workplace and health and wellbeing.
“Our youth development has been completely shattered,” says BRC President Barb Shaw.

“Twenty-seven Aboriginal jobs are now on the line. What will this do for the 500 kids across
the region, aged from 5 – 15, that use our services everyday? Who will help them if we go?”

Following the Abbott Government’s election 18 months ago, Mr Abbott drafted the
Indigenous Affairs portfolio into the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and
under his control.

He announced new targets to close the gap, offering five main pillars, the key three pillars
being: getting to work, getting children to school and making communities safe.

“We know the reality of creating meaningful Indigenous employment,” said President Shaw. “Last year Council delivered a successful Language, Literacy and Numeracy pilot project to help develop speaking, reading, writing and basic maths skills for council staff in one of the region’s remote communities.

“No funding in this area now means we cannot roll the project out across our other communities and that literacy and numeracy training support, which is fundamental to improving the chances of Indigenous workers in the region getting and keeping a job, has been cut off at the knees.”

Last week, Canberra finally announced the number of organisations set to share $860
million in grants under the new IAS funding and application process.

Barkly Regional Council was notified that through the IAS it will receive 35 per cent less of its previous budget to deliver frontline community services.

Council received funding for Night Patrol, the School Nutrition Program, Elliott Community
Radio and Elliott Playgroup, but youth development, workforce development and animal
management applications were not supported.

“The Prime Minister said last year, “it is profoundly shocking that innocent people should be
held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation”,” said President Shaw.
“He was of course referring to the Sydney café siege gunman but in light of the funding cuts
it appears Mr Abbott, whose government is armed with cash, is holding Aboriginal
disadvantage hostage for political gain.”

The new IAS strategy, consolidating more than 150 programs, grants and activities, has seen
$534 million cut from Indigenous programs administered by the Prime Minister and Cabinet
and Health portfolios.

In Federal Parliament, Labor Senator Nova Peris asked Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel
Scullion if he stood by his claim the Government’s decision to cut $500m from Indigenous
funding would not have an impact on frontline services.

“What is Scullion’s plan?” said President Shaw. “Is this just political recycling? Is the Abbott
government just defunding one area because they can’t address the failures in the Remote
Jobs and Communities Plan (RJCP)?”

“This should be about real jobs and the meaningful journey to get there, not just slash and
burn. Are they trying to close down the bush by stealth?”

President Shaw said that while the council is very grateful to the Commonwealth
Government for receiving a proportion of its funding submission when so many missed out,
“it is disappointing that key programs for health and wellbeing have been slashed or have
not been funded at all, especially for young people”.

“This funding is critical to retaining jobs on the ground across the region. So any loss in
funding has a direct job equivalent loss for the bush and its communities,” she said.

The Barkly Regional Council is heavily reliant on grants for local jobs and this news will
impact youth, workplace and environmental management areas, ensuring job numbers and
opportunities for Indigenous people go backwards.


COAG – Terms of Reference – Senior Officers Working Group Indigenous land investigation

From DPMC website:

COAG Investigation into Indigenous land administration and use

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announced on 10 October 2014 that it would conduct an urgent investigation into Indigenous land administration and use, to enable traditional owners to readily attract private sector investment and finance to develop their own land with new industries and businesses to provide jobs and economic advancement for Indigenous people.

The Investigation is an opportunity to focus all governments’ attention on how Indigenous land administration systems and processes can effectively support Indigenous land owners to leverage their land assets for economic development.

Terms of Reference – Senior Officers Working Group

The Senior Officers Working Group will focus its investigation and advice on improving the Indigenous land legislative, regulatory, administrative and operational systems and processes to:
1. enable Indigenous land owners to derive economic benefits from their land
2. enable jobs and economic advancement for Indigenous peoples
3. enable Indigenous home ownership and commercial enterprise
4. attract private sector investment and finance
5. develop industries and businesses support service delivery and infrastructure investment.

The Senior Officers Working Group will:

1. work with the Expert Indigenous Working Group to identify issues and develop options for COAG’s consideration
2. consult with key stakeholder groups including land councils, native title organisations, traditional owners, native title ministers, industry associations and financial institutions
3. consider, including with the Expert Indigenous Working Group, and report on proposals raised by native title ministers
4. provide a report to the first COAG meeting of 2015.

Expert Indigenous Working Group

Mr Wayne Bergmann (Chair)

Mr Brian Wyatt (Deputy Chair)

Mr Djawa Yunupingu

Ms Shirley McPherson

Ms Valerie Cooms

Mr Craig Cromelin

Mr Murrandoo Yanner


Ideological Battleground 2015 – Indigenous ‘land use’ vis-a-vis ‘development’ and private property.

The long ethnocidal war against this country’s First Peoples is shaping up for another chapter.

A key field of this war will take place in what we are encouraged to regard as the self-governing Northern Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia (First Peoples living countries) and extended into other parts of the country.

This ‘chapter’ is being carried out by powerful others, quick to proclaim (English only) they are working in the interests of First Peoples.

The powerful ‘others’ involved in this consists of some key players and a cast of many extras. So far, some of the key players amongst the ‘others’ include:

* the Council of Australian Governments;
* the County-Liberal Party Chief Minister of the Northern Territory;
* the Country Liberal Party Senator for the Northern Territory;
* the CEO the Northern Land Council;
* a Human Rights Commissioner

* And, just announced, a panel of indigenous land use ‘experts’ for the CoAG investigation. How and by whom they are selected is not clear.

Excluded from this high level discourse are the community voices of First Peoples at a local and regional level. As a result of past and present Australian government deliberate policies there is no properly resourced Australia wide representative body.

As things presently stand, we are unlikely to directly hear the voices of the senior lawpeople of those First Peoples.

Nor will we be hearing about how mainstream Western notions of development and exclusive ownership need to be reformed in light of First Peoples core values. We will hear much about how First Peoples Way have to be ‘reformed’ (yet again) to better comply with mainstream Western notions. The lives of First Peoples have been regarded as the playthings of Anglo-Australian governments for so long it is regarded as ‘normal’.

Nor is it likely that First Peoples voices will be accurately represented in either the mainstream or much of the alternative media. This is the chorus from the cast of many extras, singing very different songs to those of First Peoples, but in tune with their Western cultural master narratives.

Songlines will endeavour, during this year, to provide some informed commentary on this ‘reform’ process from a perspective which does not align solely with culturally one-sided mainstream Western norms and normas, but does not purport to represent the views of First Peoples.

If, better still, we can provide a conduit for their voices, we will.

Bruce (Japaljari) Reyburn
22 Feb 2012

“Expert Group Appointed to Indigenous Land Inquiry” Minister for Indigenous Affairs

Media Release
Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion
Leader of the Nationals in the Senate Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory

Friday 20 February 2015

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, who is leading a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) investigation into Indigenous land administration and use, has invited an Expert Indigenous Working Group to guide the work of the inquiry.

Minister Scullion said the group will work with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments on the Investigation and ensure that policy directions and proposals are developed with the involvement of Indigenous stakeholders.

“The Expert Indigenous Working Group will be chaired by Mr Wayne Bergmann who brings with him a wealth of experience in native title and economic development,” Minister Scullion said.

“The Group will also include Mr Brian Wyatt, Ms Valerie Cooms, Mr Murrandoo Yanner, Ms Shirley McPherson, Mr Djawa Yunupingu and Mr Craig Cromelin.

“Together they will be drawing on their expertise and knowledge throughout this investigation of Indigenous land administration and use.
“I also welcome ideas from all Indigenous stakeholders to support this work and the Group will also meet with Indigenous stakeholders as part of their consultations.”

Minister Scullion said the investigation will focus all governments’ attention on getting the settings right to support Indigenous land owners and native title holders to leverage their land assets for economic development as part of the mainstream economy.

“Indigenous land and native title is a foundation for Indigenous economic development,” he said.

“This investigation will consider what action is needed to ensure the land administration system assists Indigenous land owners and native title holders to use land to pursue their social, cultural and economic aspirations.”

“I have asked the Working Group to focus on opportunities to improve land administration under existing legislative arrangements and I maintain my commitment to not change the Northern Territory Land Rights Act unless supported by the Land Councils.”

The investigation terms of reference for the Investigation, and information about the Expert Indigenous Working Group, can be found at affairs/about/jobs-land-and-economy-programme/coag-land-investigation.


(link to terms of reference did not work for me. Have reported problem. Songlines)

NLC and CLC media statement – Abbott govt indigenous land use investigation

“Keep Indigenous land investigation ideology-free
Posted: Fri, February 20, 2015

THE Northern Territory’s two big land councils have called on the Abbott government to base its investigation into indigenous land use on facts rather than ideology.

“For the sake of the most disadvantaged indigenous Australians we call on the Abbott government to rise above its demonstrated dislike of evidence based policy development,” CLC Director, David Ross, and NLC CEO, Joe Morrison, said in a joint statement.

“We hope the indigenous working group announced today will challenge the myths being peddled by NT Country Liberal Party ideologues about hard-won Aboriginal land rights supposedly holding up development in remote communities. We are certainly keen to work constructively to develop solutions to real barriers to economic development.”

Mr Ross and Mr Morrison called for experts on the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to be added to the expert Indigenous working group.

“Much of this inquiry is about the land councils’ area of expertise: the Aboriginal Land Rights Act that applies only here in the Northern Territory. We are very disappointed that the government has not included anyone with technical knowledge of the legislation.”

Mr Ross and Mr Morrison said it was not encouraging that the terms of reference for the investigation were developed without Indigenous input
“While we’re hearing a lot about the new, more consultative Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs the reality on the ground is more of the same old top-down approach.”

Both land councils took little comfort from Minister Scullion’s assurance today that he would not change the Land Rights Act without the consent of the land councils.

“What the Minister has been trying but failing to do is to hollow out our land rights with the help of Howard-era provisions in the Land Rights Act that are ideologically driven, unworkable and would greatly increase uncertainty for Traditional Owners, third parties and businesses.”


COAG report on indigenous land ‘development’ due 1st COAG meeting in 2015

The Council of Australian Governments held its 38th meeting …
10 October 2014


“COAG noted that the Commonwealth, the Northern Territory and Queensland will urgently investigate Indigenous land administration and land use to enable traditional owners to readily attract private sector investment and finance to develop their own land with new industries and businesses to provide jobs and economic advancement for Indigenous people. The Commonwealth, Northern Territory and Queensland will report on this issue to the first COAG meeting in 2015.”

Full text